Practical Software Measurement

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Webinar Replay: Critical Cost & Schedule Target Setting with Data-Driven Estimation

Cost and Schedule Target Setting Webinar

If you were unable to attend our recent webinar, "Critical Cost & Schedule Target Setting with Data-Driven Estimation," a replay is now available.

It might come as no surprise that technology organizations will spend millions of dollars this year on agile and traditional development programs. But did you know that many will lose big money and time because they don’t have an effective way to establish and negotiate reasonable cost, schedule, and quality targets? In this webinar, Keith Ciocco demonstrates how we use the QSM estimation tools to manage these major challenges and the uncertainty that can come with very early critical planning decisions.

Watch the replay!

Blog Post Categories 
Webinars SLIM-Collaborate Estimation

Upcoming Webinar: Critical Cost & Schedule Target Setting with Data-Driven Estimation

Cost and Schedule Target Setting Webinar

On Wednesday, September 15th at 1:00 PM Eastern, QSM will host a free webinar, "Critical Cost & Schedule Target Setting with Data-Driven Estimation."

It might come as no surprise that technology organizations will spend millions of dollars this year on agile and traditional development programs. But did you know that many will lose big money and time because they don’t have an effective way to establish and negotiate reasonable cost, schedule, and quality targets? In this webinar, Keith Ciocco will demonstrate how we use the QSM estimation tools to manage these major challenges and the uncertainty that can come with very early critical planning decisions.

Register now!

Blog Post Categories 
Webinars SLIM-Collaborate Estimation

Remembering Larry Putnam, Sr.

Larry Putnam, Sr.QSM is deeply saddened to share that our founder, Larry Putnam, Sr. passed away last week at the age of 91, leaving behind a 40 year legacy in the software estimation and measurement field.

Larry began his illustrious career in the military, graduating from West Point in 1952. He was commissioned in the Armor Branch and went on to serve 26 years on active duty. While in the service, he studied Nuclear Effects Engineering at the Naval Postgraduate School, where he obtained a Masters degree in Physics. 

But it was to be the relatively new field of software development where Larry would ultimately make his mark. He was assigned to manage the Army's computer program budget at the Pentagon in the mid-1970s. After struggling to defend his yearly budget to the Department of Defense (DoD) budget review authority (OSD) because he couldn't justify the staffing levels for one of his systems, he made it his mission to understand software engineering staffing and effort. Starting with the Rayleigh equation as the ideal way to apply people to a design-intensive project, he began collecting Army data to see if it followed the Rayleigh pattern.  Just from comparing the budget data to a group of about 15 systems, he was able to confirm it was a fit.  Using the simple projections of the Rayleigh curves, he was able to get the 50 systems currently in development under financial control.  (He speaks candidly of this experience in Roots Run Deep: The Journey to Software Application Estimation and Risk Management.)

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Estimation QSM News SLIM Suite

Webinar Replay: Leveraging Historical Data for Better Software Development Estimation

Levering Historical Data for Better Software Estimation Webinar

If you were unable to attend our recent webinar, a replay is now available.

Software development managers are often in a position where they need to communicate to stakeholders what their work is going to cost and how long it will take to deliver. Unrealistic targets can be set, because decisions are made based on gut feel instead of past performance, causing projects to be late and over budget. Leveraging historical data with project planning can change all of that. In this webinar, Keith Ciocco demonstrates some of the best practices and tools that QSM uses to help clients capture and analyze historical data for better estimation, process improvement, and early decision making.

Watch the replay!

Blog Post Categories 
Webinars Estimation Database

Upcoming Webinar: Leveraging Historical Data for Better Software Development Estimation

Levering Historical Data for Better Software Estimation Webinar

Software development managers are often in a position where they need to communicate to stakeholders what their work is going to cost and how long it will take to deliver. Unrealistic targets can be set, because decisions are made based on gut feel instead of past performance, causing projects to be late and over budget. Leveraging historical data with project planning can change all of that. In this webinar presented on Wednesday, July 14th at 1:00 PM EDT, Keith Ciocco will demonstrate some of the best practices and tools that QSM uses to help clients capture and analyze historical data for better estimation, process improvement, and early decision making.

Register now!

Blog Post Categories 
Webinars Estimation Database

Software Development Decisions: How Can We Start The Conversation?

The short answer is with an estimate! Early decisions are a big deal when it comes to software development and delivery. Whether its agile or waterfall, we need to figure out what the work is going to cost and how long it’s going to take, oftentimes without detailed requirements confirmed. Estimates give managers a good way to start the conversation with internal stakeholders and with clients. Should we take this project on? Is this going to cost 5 million dollars or 10? Do we have the resource capacity to fulfill the demand? Should this take 6 months or 12? Management needs to know the answers, ideally before spending major resources and before detailed planning takes place. 

By looking at thousands of completed projects, QSM has found that big money can be saved by taking a quantitative approach to finding those answers. Early data-driven estimates give us the ability to set realistic targets and manage the uncertainty that goes along with early decision making. I am referring to “Big Picture” data-driven estimates, before sprint level planning takes place.

With the SLIM-Collaborate analysis below, we can see a staffing profile that shows a gold estimate along with a more conservative green one; a two column chart showing a comparison summary; a scatterplot showing a risky effort target compared to a more reliable alternative and an industry trendline; and we see a risky gold cost estimate compared to a green high assurance one. The data shown here is saving this company from making a bad decision, a decision that could cost them a lot of money, time, and quality.

Software Development Estimation

Blog Post Categories 
Estimation SLIM-Collaborate

There's No Risk in Software Project Planning

I like listening to audiobooks when I go for a morning run. This month it is a David Baldacci thriller about two CIA professional killers pitted against each other who end up working together to save us all from global catastrophe.  Apparently, there is a ton of planning involved in stealthily hunting a target, making the kill, and then getting away unseen.  That’s because there is a lot of risk.  Timing is critical, down to the split second, and the slightest mistake can end your life.  Discussing the highly complex plan to foil an assassination attempt with his partner, one agent says to the other, “There’s no risk in planning. The risk is in the execution.”

That got me thinking about software development and QSM’s SLIM-Suite estimating, tracking, and forecasting tools.  Do I agree with that statement?  Yes and no.  Let’s look at it both activities – project planning and execution.  

Planning

The activity of planning is not risky as far as your personal safety is concerned. You probably aren’t in danger of getting attacked or making a mistake that will cause bodily injury (you may experience emotional trauma or at least endure a minor headache).  It is most definitely risky for software development programs and initiatives, however, because aggressive plans based on poor estimates handicap the delivery team.  Without understanding the dynamics of software development projects or the ability to rapidly compute a range of potential outcomes to identify risky scenarios, planners may inadvertently commit to unrealistic schedule, budget, and staffing goals.  In fact, most plans are “goal based” ― task lists and staffing plans derived to give management or the customer what they want, because there is no solid framework or supporting data to defend against it. 

QSM Releases SLIM-Suite 10.3

We are pleased to anounce the release of SLIM-Suite 10.3, the latest version of our flagship software management tool suite. The pandemic has put enormous pressure on business leaders to utilize resources wisely while juggling development teams in remote locations. With that in mind, our goal with the newest release was to provide several small, yet powerful improvements designed to save time and increase consistency at every step of the project and portfolio planning process.

Improvements to SLIM-Estimate's Skills Breakout configuration make it easier to fine-tune skill categories and labor rates to support better resource demand planning at both the project and portfolio levels.  Additionally, the tool's API now exposes the Sizing and PI (Productivity Index, QSM's proprietary productivity measure) calculators for users who wish to leverage these features directly from a spreadsheet or other external applications.

SLIM-DataManager, QSM's database repository tool, has new functionality designed to make it easier to validate, understand, and analyze your portfolio of projects. Power editing and enhanced keyword management allow quick changes to multiple projects right from the master project list. Power editing makes it easy to add/update descriptive “tags” used to group projects into relevant categories for benchmarking and estimate calibration.

In addition to the new configuration capabilities, SLIM-Suite 10.3 features new agile enhancements, such as an updated SLIM-Estimate agile template. SLIM-Estimate and SLIM-Control now allow users to instantly toggle the display of agile increment lines between sprints, program increments, or both levels of detail.

How Accurate Must a Software Delivery Estimate Be to Be Effective?

During the COVID era, I started thinking of all the home improvement projects I would like to tackle and sadly have not started any, lol.  However, I recently became motivated and decided to apply drywall mud (skim coat) to two walls in my garage that have been dinged and dented over the years.  An essential part of this process is to first estimate my materials, time and effort to minimize the impact of disruption to my family’s day to day lives.  Estimating this job is a simple process – amount of surface area to be covered yields the amount of drywall mud I will need.  The time and effort to complete the project is the fuzziest part of the estimate, but since I have mudded before, I have a rough idea of how long it will take to mud, sand, mud again, sand again, then primer and paint.  The risk of this estimate is low, since my work won’t be keeping a medical device functioning, an airplane afloat or a billing system used by thousands operational.

Estimating software delivery is not that simple and its accuracy can be easily compromised – but what is “accurate?"  Software estimation’s non-linear nature introduces much complexity, since time, effort, resources, and quality are all interdependent - when a change to one of those measures happens it affects the others.

Blog Post Categories 
Estimation

Webinar Replay: Cost Optimization Best Practices for Software and IT Budgeting

Cost Optimization for Software and IT Budgeting Webinar

If you were unable to attend our recent webinar, "Cost Optimization Best Practices for Software and IT Budgeting," a replay is now available.

Managing spending and ensuring there is enough organizational capacity to fulfill client and stakeholder demands are challenges that thousands of software development and IT managers face every day. Leveraging a reliable data driven estimation and oversight process can save millions of dollars annually when carried out the right way. In this webinar, Keith Ciocco explains some of the best practices that QSM uses to help our clients improve their effectiveness when planning their project and portfolio budgets.

Watch the replay!

Blog Post Categories 
webinar IT Budgeting Capacity Planning